Thursday, 27 February 2014

How to Prepare your Garden for Spring

Spring is nearly here and it’s time to start preparing your garden for the most awaited season of the year. Dust off those gardening tools, start planning on fun things to plant and welcome new life to your outdoor space.

Start with a Plan

Before getting started on your garden, you need to think about what look you would like to achieve for your outdoor space. Make a checklist of the flowers, trees and shrubs you planted last year and then improve on that look by adding new perennials.  Maybe you can add a vegetable patch to grow your own herbs and vegetables or improve the overall design of that area by installing additional colorful containers and pots.

Go Green

Try to make the change in your environment by shifting from chemical gardening methods to organic gardening. You can use a compost pile in your garden, use natural fertilizers and collect rainwater from your gutters to water the plants.

Get your Garden Gear ready

To preserve your garden gear and get them ready for spring, rub linseed oil on their wooden handles and then scrub the rust off the metal parts by using a wire brush. It is important to take special care of your pruners as it is used to cut plants. Clean them with turpentine and then with denatured alcohol. Oil all the movable parts and sharpen the blades. To prevent the transfer of diseases from one plant to the next, keep a disinfecting spray handy with your pruners.

Service Your Lawnmower

You need to get your lawnmower up and running for the first few days of any outdoor work in the garden. Have the carburetor cleaned, blades sharpened and the fuel lines flushed. To make them pollute less and more efficient, clean the engine frequently.

Clear leaves away from Perennials

To prevent leaves from covering and smothering the emergence of new perennials, it is best to chop them up and use as compost. They may be great soil amendments but when they get too big, they will create a heavy covering for plants or get blown around in the wind.

Pull the weeds and fertilize

During the winter, the weeds would have germinated during the fall and would have grown when every other plant was dormant. So pull them up before they flower and go to seed. Just before spring, use organic fertilizers for the soil. This helps the growing process for shrubs and perennials. Too much fertilizer is better than none at all.

Test Your Irrigation System

Check your hoses for watering plants and make sure they are set up early before use. If you have lawn sprinklers, then test them to check for any malfunctions.

Enrich the Soil and lay the Mulch

Feed the soil with manure and compost and mix it well for a depth of 18 inches below the ground. Then add a two inch layer of good quality mulch for your flowering beds and perennials. This helps in keeping the ground from drying out, regulating moisture fluctuations and adds organic matter and nutrients as the soil breaks down.

Plant vegetable seeds indoors

Spring is the right time to get started on planting some seeds indoors in containers and pots. Place them near windows for bright sunlight access. Choose the seeds you want to plant. Vegetable seeds are the best bet like tomatoes, eggplants and peppers as they germinate well in plastic trays with plastic covers.

Start sowing and protecting seeds

Plant seeds that thrive in cooler weather conditions like onion, leeks, parsley, spinach, shallots, oregano and peppers. Using drought tolerant plants can enrich your garden. They are lavender, aloe, lavender, rockrose, honeysuckle, Black-eyed Susans, verbena, coneflower, Artemisia, garlic, yarrow, salvia and Russian sage. Protect your seeds from hungry birds before they have a chance to sprout. Cover your garden with mosquito netting or by hanging old CDs in the bushes. They will reflect light and scare away birds from that area. You can use plastic milk containers for pots.

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Make Your Yard More Private

Do you find that your outdoor space is always in the public eye of all the neighboring houses in your area? You can add privacy and make your garden a personal retreat by adding a few elements to keep prying eyes out. After all, you only have your garden for a few hours in a day, so you need to make it worthwhile to make it a haven of rest and relaxation. Try these few simple ways to create your very own personalized space in the comfort of your home.

Fences – The easiest, safest and fastest way to create privacy in your backyard is to put up a fence. They are the perfect option to keep children and pets indoors. You can also prevent strangers from entering and keep prying eyes out from neighboring houses. Select a material that complements the structure and style of your property. Look around for areas in your outdoor space that needs some closure before installing a fence. You can even use existing structures in your garden to block outside views. A deck or small patio next to your home or garage maybe all you need to screen one or two sides that need privacy.

Hedges – You can mix up various colors and textures of different shrubs to give a natural look. If you find that a fence will be too stark, it is better to grow a hedge. For every region, there will be shrub varieties that can be perfect to create a hedge. You can experiment and add different textures to your hedge by adding small trees. Layer the plants to create a beautiful mosaic that contain various species of plants with different shapes and sizes. You need to make sure to shear or prune your shrubs on a regular basis depending on the type of shrub you’re growing. Keep your hedges looking good for years by shearing your shrubs in a way that keeps the bottom wider than the top.

Lattice Panels – To block just a spot or two in your outdoor space, you can set up a few inexpensive lattice panels in your yard. To add extra interest, plant a small garden bed around the panels. To help them feel integrated into your landscape, you can plant some tidy vines where the panels are installed. However, ensure you have the right type of vine for the required spot as a big vine can easily crush the panels as they grow. On the other hand, small vines may not grow large enough to sufficiently cover the panel as they grow.

Berms – Miniature hills that add height to plantings and also provide privacy for your garden are berms. You can also bring small plants to eye level by planting and highlighting them on berms. Their advantage is that they drain better than flat beds owing to the nature of their sloping sides. That’s why they are well suited for species that prefer dry soil and rock garden plants. To form a sound and physical curtain between the yard and street, plant shrubs and trees on berms. To give the mound proper stability, install stones and rocks on them. To prevent mulch from running down the slope, make sure the berms are at a ratio of one foot of height to every four feet of width.

Pergola – To add privacy to a small garden area, pergolas are the right choice. It may not block out an entire yard but it will block out specific areas in your outdoor area that need it. To create a shady and private nook for a patio or secluded bench, create a vine-covered pergola. It also adds proper structure to the landscape for a whole year. To create more privacy, you can hang sheets of outdoor-friendly fabric that will act as curtains for the pergola. What’s more, a vine-covered pergola with running lattice panels between its columns will add even more privacy.